Gary Rowett has said that he would love to keep Ryan Woods past this season, but has admitted that it’ll be a “challenge”.
The South London Press believe that Rowett is a huge admirer of the midfielder – epitomised by the fact he’s already signed him twice in his managerial career.
Firstly, he signed him from Brentford he was Stoke City boss in the summer of 2018, before bringing him to The Den on loan last January following a difficult 18 months in the Potteries.
Following a successful first stint in South London, Woods then secured a season-long loan deal with the Lions less than seven days after Millwall rounded off their season against Huddersfield.
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The former Bees man has continued to be a regular in the Lions’ midfield, featuring a further 31 times in all competitions, and Rowett has been commenting on the possibility of signing Woods, whose Stoke contract expires in the summer of 2022, on a permanent deal this coming summer.
Rowett told South London Press: “I’ve spoken briefly to Woodsy about it. My job is to get Ryan Woods playing at his very best so he gets to the end of the season and 10 teams higher up in this league or in the Premier League say: ‘We want Ryan Woods as part of our team’.
“Whatever happens, happens. Really Woodsy should be out of our reach.
“I’d love to keep Woodsy for longer, but it is a challenge. We have had him for 18 months and from his own perspective I’m sure he wants to play at the highest level he can. I know there was a little bit of interest in the summer from other teams.
“My job is not to pre-empt what is going to happen in the future and talk about other team’s players who are contracted for next season.
“If we have got him next season – brilliant. But I don’t plan too far ahead with loan players because it can be impossible to predict what it looks like in six months time.”
Whilst Woods hasn’t performed to the level he managed last season, he remains Millwall’s most technical centre-midfielder, and securing his services for a third campaign would be a huge boost.
But with Woods having not featured for Stoke for more than 12 months, the Potters might opt to cash-in on the midfielder this summer to prevent the possibility of him leaving for free when his contract expires, although as Rowett stated above, a cash deal could prove difficult for the Lions.